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CinemaCon 2014: Press Release Roundup

CinemaCon Logo

PLEASE NOTE: If we missed any individual press release it was not done purposefully. If you would like us to include a CinemaCon related press announcement in a future roundup, please forward it to tips@celluloidjunkie.com.

Historically companies and organizations doing business at trade shows and conferences have relied heavily upon press releases to get their message out to an industry. This has been especially true at CinemaCon and ShoWest before it. This year was no different.

The first day of the show always sees a flurry of announcements “hit the wire”. As the week (and convention) progresses the number of releases tends to dwindle. We thought it might be useful to sum up all of the announcements made at this year’s show, and when appropriate, provide a bit of insight or analysis. Here are the releases published during CinemaCon 2014 listed in alphabetical order by company name:

Arts Alliance Media
The London based digital cinema integrator and software developer is is always good for a few releases during industry trade shows. CinemaCon saw them release no fewer than four. The first announced the launch of a new software solution called AdFuser. The software was designed for all aspects of on-screen cinema advertising. The software is capable of planning campaigns and managing inventory, targeting ads to appropriate genres or audience demographics, automated ad playlist creation, ad content delivery, reporting and much more. AdFuser can be used in either an extremely granular or completely automated fashion.

Our Take: AAM’s cinema advertising software has been in development for years so it is interesting to see them finally launch the product. We have yet to have a close demonstration of the solution, but look forward to seeing it in action. The company is entering a niche market with a stiff competitor (Unique Digital) that has more than a decade head start in the space.

AAM announced a software deal with Vox Cinemas, a cinema chain based in the Middle East. The circuit will be employing AAM’s suite of software to manage their digital cinema technology and operations. This includes solutions such as Screenwriter Plus (Theatre Management System), Producer (Enterprise Circuit Management System) and Locksmith (Enterprise KDM Management) and Lifeguard (NOC Tools). Vox operates 9 complexes which account for 92 screens in Lebanon and the UAE.

Finnkino was already using AAM’s theatre management system (TMS) and will now upgrade to Screenwriter Plus, which has additional features for automation and monitoring. The circuit will rollout the new version of Screenwriter Plus throughout their 14 sites and at a later date has the option to include their 11 Forum Cinemas located in the Baltic.

AAM began as a digital cinema integrator with their own virtual print fees (VPFs) in Europe. They have now entered the complicated Latin American market with a series of partners, most recently Quanta-DGT. The trio announced three deals for VPF rollouts with three exhibitors in Uruguay; Grupo Cine, Life Cinemas and Movie.

Our Take: This agreement is a perfect example of just how complex Latin America can be for the motion picture business. While the combined 61 screens covered in the contract already have digital cinema equipment installed, these screens will now fall under AAM/Quanta-DGT’s VPF agreements.

CinemaBarcoThe Belgian based projector manufacturer was incredibly active during this year’s CinemaCon, showing up at the conference with half a dozen press releases. Many of the notices centered around their new CinemaBarco initiative, specifically the 60,000-lumen laser projector the company is bringing to market. The projector is DCI-compliant and capable of showing 4K content all the way up to 60 frames per second. The Barco 6P laser projector is capable of showing 3D content in 4K at 14 ftL and is fully integrated within the DCI-compliant projector. It will be commercially available immediately in the United States and China before being distributed in the rest of the world by the end of 2014. The company demonstrated the projector at CinemaCon without a “shaking” screen.

To prove just how market ready their laser projector is, Barco announced that Cinemark would be the first exhibitor to install the new technology. The release didn’t specify precisely which sites Barco would be installing its high-tech projector in, though don’t be surprised if Cinemark Century 16 South Point and XD winds up being the first. That’s the Las Vegas cinema in which Barco was conducting off-site demonstrations of its laser projector during CinemaCon.

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BREAKING NEWS: Wanda Breaks Embargo on Deal For 780 New RealD 3D Installations

Wanda breaks RealD embargo

CELLULOID JUNKIE EXCLUSIVE: It seems that China’s Wanda – the world’s biggest cinema operator and owner of American multiplex chain AMC – has broken its own embargo on an announcement for an expanded deal with 3D vendor RealD.

It looks like this deal was set to be announced on Monday next week (24th of March), which is the international day of CinemaCon and the day these type of deals typically get announced.

The statement (translated by Google) reads:

March 24, Wanda Cinema 3D images with the world-renowned technology provider RealD jointly announced that the two sides will continue cooperation agreement, Wanda Cinema will install 780 sets of RealD 3D equipment in the next three years, placed in Wanda Cinema The 3D movie hall. Plus 800 sets of equipment currently installed Wanda Cinema, RealD equipment Wanda total installed throughout China will be more than 1500 sets.

RealD is currently the world’s most widely used 3D cinema projection technology. As of March 4, 2014, there are 74 countries worldwide, more than 25,049 screens in 1,000 theaters install RealD 3D projection equipment. Brightness RealD 3D theater system is twice that of other 3D technologies, and have screened the film features a high frame rate.

The fact that the story (press release?) is dated March 24th means that it was most likely to be on hold until that date, but somehow the Chinese version was posted on Wanda’s website too early.

If this is the case, this is a serious slip-up as RealD is a publicly listed company and a big deal like this could give its share price a bounce. Wanda had a previous deal in place with RealD from 2010 for 500 screens.

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RealD Gets Bigger In Russia With Two New Deals

RealD In Russia

With more than 23,000 movie screens using its 3D cinema technology in 74 countries around the globe, there is little debate over RealD’s market penetration. Yet it seems there are still territories where the company can grow its market share, especially in China and Russia.

That said, Russian exhibitors gave RealD a lot to crow about last week. The company announced that Cinema Park, which operates 281 screens across 18 cities in Russia, will install RealD 3D technology on 200 screens. Though RealD has already been placed in some of the circuit’s auditoriums, it will take five years to complete the rollout.

Cinema Park says 226 of its current screens are already 3D capable, leading one to believe the exhibitor is transitioning from whatever existing 3D systems they are using to RealD.

Possibly more important to RealD is that Cinema Park plans on installing the company’s premium large format (PLF) offering in their Grand Canyon theatre in St. Petersburg. As we explained back in June, the new program has been dubbed “Luxe: A RealD Experience”. Here is how the company describes what it refers to as an initiative:

“LUXE: A RealD Experience” is the Premium Large Format (PLF) initiative introduced by RealD at CineEurope 2013 with the aim of unifying the exhibition community under a single brand with a goal of becoming synonymous with the ultimate out of home entertainment experience. Minimum standards will assure all “LUXE: A RealD Experience” auditoriums feature massive screens, ultra bright 2D and 3D, enveloping audio and luxury seating for a premium movie-going experience. “LUXE: A RealD Experience” auditoriums will provide full flexibility with content, allowing exhibitors to show any movie at any time for optimized profitability.

This seems like less of a product and more of a quality assurance certification program not unlike what THX has offered in the past. RealD details the program’s requirements as follows:

All “LUXE: A RealD Experience” auditoriums will meet minimum technology specifications to assure a premium cinema experience, such as: usage of RealD 3D, the industry’s brightest 3D projection technology; wall-to-wall / floor-to-ceiling screens of at least 16 meters in width; 3D sound; auditorium rakes to optimize patron’s views and more.

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Can RealD Rival IMAX In The Premium Large Format (PLF) Market?

With Cinema Europe currently underway in Barcelona, two trends for premium cinema experiences that pull in opposite direction are hot topics for exhibitors gathering in Spain. The first is towards smaller, intimate venues that typically serve fine food and wine, as exemplified by The Electric in London or the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. But it is the super-sizing of cinemas in a bid to compete with IMAX and its ability to charge premium ticket prices that is attracting the most attention right now. And RealD wants to be the centre of that action.

With cinema admissions in most of Europe static or even down and 3D seeing its lowest admission figures yet in the US this week, the hunt is on for how to squeeze more out of the people that still go to the cinema. This is where the success of IMAX comes into play, with exhibitors either partnering the large format (LF) player or launching their own premium experience auditoriums, to be able to charge a premium above that of 3D. The track record of exhibitors that have launched their own IMAX-like screens has been mixed, with social media in particular abuzz with patrons venting their unhappiness about large screen up-charges. This blog called AMC’s ETX ‘an Excuse To charge Extra’ and is no less kind about Regal’s RPX.

With Digital 3D being a key part of the PLF experience, RealD has spotten and opportunity to try to create a branding on behalf of exhibitors. From their press release:

At a special presentation to European cinema exhibitors at CineEurope, RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) today introduced “LUXE: A RealD Experience,” a premium large format (PLF) initiative aimed at unifying the exhibition community under a single brand with a goal of becoming synonymous with the ultimate out of home entertainment experience. Minimum standards will assure all “LUXE: A RealD Experience” auditoriums feature massive screens, ultra bright 2D and 3D, enveloping audio and luxury seating for a premium movie-going experience. “LUXE: A RealD Experience” auditoriums will provide full flexibility with content, allowing exhibitors to show any movie at any time for optimized profitability.

The code words are clearly audible dog whistles for cinema owners. The first sentence effectively says, “you have largely failed with your efforts of creating in-house PLF brands that can take on IMAX.” The second sentence says, “too many of the PLF auditoriums have been poor IMAX-lite causing consumer backlash.” The third sentence is the most critical, because it tells cinemas not to tie themselves in with IMAX’s restrictive licence terms – “you will have to pay a licence fee to RealD, but it will be less than what you would pay IMAX and we also won’t tell you which films to play and for how long.” Not surprisingly the effort has won the backing of the studios, who are keen on premium ticket pricing, but not on IMAX dominating the market. [NB: The first point was made even more strongly in the ScreenDaily interview, where Mayson is quoted as saying, “There are more than 50 PLF brands worldwide. We’re trying to unify those brands on the grounds that it’s easier to create awareness around one experience."]

Bob Mayson is quoted in the Hollywood Reporter on the technical specifics:

“LUXE comes in response to our exhibitor customers, who are seeing increasing demand for premium cinema offerings but really want a single identifiable brand that will be a guarantee of quality to their customers,“ Robert Mayson, Managing Director of RealD Europe told The Hollywood Reporter. According to Mayson, the technical standards, which include wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screens of at least 16 meters (52.5 feet) in width; 3D sound; auditorium rakes and a screen brightness for 3D projections about twice the current norm, means LUXE will be an elite standard. “We are talking about the top five percent of cinemas, there will be many theaters that won’t have the capacity or the physical dimensions to qualify,” he said.

Note in particular the mention of ’3D audio’. RealD is careful not to pick a winner in the fight between Dolby’s Atmos and Barco’s Auro and would most likely prefer to see an open standard, as called for by NATO and UNIC [Dolby’s Artmos in its RPX screens, 3D audio will together with a big screen and bright projection be a cornerstone of the PLF experience. Though for exhibitors not willing to install two projectors, whether Sony or DLP, the equation will not truly be completed until the arrival of laser projection.

The next thing to note is the territories where this system will launch. THR identifies this as, “RealD plans to roll out the new LUXE initiative in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. Europe in particular has seen strong growth in the premium segment of the cinema market.” Screen meanwhile lists, “Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Bulgaria, Romania and the Balkans.” The thing to note is that it is the emerging markets that are of particular focus, which is why we get a quote from “Paul Heth, CEO of Karo Film, a leading cinema chain in Russia.” These are the markets that have not attempted a PLF brand on their own and that will build new multiplexes, so that the system does not have to be retrofitted into existing multiplexes. RealD is thus unlikely to try to persuade existing cinema clients in North America and Western Europe to ditch their own in-house PLF brand in favour of LUXE.

While IMAX is built on great technology and offers (depending on the site) a terrific viewer experience, there is nothing about it that cannot be replicated with todays digital technology – unlike the analogue 70mm systems of olden days. What sets it apart from in-house PLF screens is thus one thing: branding. IMAX has done a terrific job of re-positioning its brand from 60 minute documentaries for school groups that put bums on seats Monday through Friday 9am until 5pm, to one where people book tickets weeks in advance to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster on the opening weekend. This despite the backlash of the ‘IMAX-lite’ entry into the multiplex market a few years back. Vue Xtreme and Regal RPX have simply not been able to match the branding power of IMAX. RealD too has some cleaver technology, including launching the brighter screen this week, but there is nothing inherently unique about circular polarization 3D at the heart of their solution. The truth is that RealD too is about branding. Just like IMAX it charges a licence fee. Just not as much or with terms perceived as equally restrictive. If RealD succeeds with LUXE – and it stands a better chance than in-house PLFs – it is because the company understands IMAX and what makes it a success all too well.

Who Does Regal Love More – RealD or Imax?

If the US exhibition industry was a comic strip, Regal Cinemas would be Archie and 3D rivals RealD and Imax would be Betty and Veronica. Things seem to be coming to a head between the three with the opening of Regal’s latest multiplex Thornton Place Stadium 14 & IMAX – to give it its full and proper name – and with a shot across the bows from Veronica, sorry, Imax about just how fabulously rich her offerings are.

First the details on the opening of the state-of-the-art Thornton:

Regal Thornton Place Stadium 14 will feature a new IMAX® theatre utilizing a specially-designed screen that is slightly curved and moved forward to immerse the audience. The IMAX Experience® is further enhanced by a crystal-clear digital surround sound system. Regal’s IMAX theatre will also offer IMAX 3D® when filmmakers choose to integrate 3D images into their movies. Future IMAX releases include: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (6/24) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (7/15).

The new theatre is modern in every way, equipped with RealD® 3D to provide true-to-life 3D. RealD is a new generation of digital 3D, giving moviegoers a stunningly realistic movie experience that engages the imagination, activates the senses and invites the audience not only to watch a film, but also step inside the story. Upcoming Digital 3D movies include: Disney-Pixar’s Up (5/29), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (7/1) and Disney’s G-Force (7/24).

‘Immerse the audience’ and ‘step inside the story’, OK, so Regal has both systems on the go. No major surprise there. But RealD and Imax do not see themselves as equals and do not just want to co-exist peacefully. This was made clear in an e-mail that went out from Imax today, headlined ‘Star Trek IMAX breaks record with $8.3 mil opening weekend in U.S.‘, which amounts to 11 per cent of the total box office (see Weekend BO story below).

Imax then goes on to quote from the Regal Cinemas public earnings conference call, where Regal’s CEO Mike Campbell, took a  question from an analyst on whether Veronica was cutest or Betty prettiest:

Matthew Harrigan  – Wunderlich Securities – Analyst

Good morning. Thanks for taking my question. Two questions. One, there’s a pretty profound asymmetry even if you adjust for the size of the auditoriums on the 3-D results for IMAX versus REAL D. Have you given any thought to re-balancing that or is it just more a matter of educating the consumer on REAL D? I heard there are some people actually think that some of the quality in 3-D with REAL D is better than with IMAX, but it doesn’t seem to have quite the marketing cachet.

Michael Campbell  – Regal Entertainment Group – Chairman and CEO

As far as the Real D versus the IMAX experience, IMAX is a powerful brand and it’s not just the visuals and the size of the screen. It’s a–it’s got the best sound system in the world according to most people. So we’re seeing that when we run REAL D versus 2-D, the Real D screens show a multiple of two to three times the attendance that you’re getting out of a 2-D screen while the IMAX will run five to six times. So we view this actually as a very viable market going forward, where IMAX remains at the top of the food chain. It’s long-established as a powerful brand, attaches a higher premium. Real D 3-D is somewhere between IMAX and 2-D. And we think that it gives the customer maximum flexibility in choosing. [emphasis added]

So Regal loves Imax twice as much as it loves RealD? Or at least its audience does. Imax want to have us believe that. Regal has 52 screens contracted with Imax, but has committed with RealD for 1,500 screens. So the date count seems to go in favour of Betty. Moreover, if you read the above quote early, what Regal is saying is that RealD lacks the brand awareness that Imax has been building up over several decades. But that could of course change.

But could it be that neither of the two will end up the real winner? Archie-ologist will remember that Issue #320 saw the introduction of Cheryl Blossom, a redhead from Pembroke, England, introduced to compete with Betty and Veronica for Archie. Who might 3D cinemas Cherry Blossom be? Why, none other than UK-born American-relocated Dolby Laboratories. With studios threatening to no longer pay for RealD’s disposable (now recyclable) eyewear, the Dolby3D system with its re-usable glasses (and high gain, instead of silver screen) is becoming more and more appealing.

Not that Regal is likely to break it off with RealD for its 1,500 dates and while Imax is likely to continue to occupy a high end niche, the race for the attention of the cinema is definitely heating up and getting interesting. We don’t expect a cat fight, but we are awaiting RealD’s retaliation keenly.

RealD Releases LP Version

reald-projectorRealD expanded its product line today with the launch of RealD LP (Linear Polarizing Z Screen), which the company describes as a mobile, single-projector, passive 3D system.

RealD recommends the system for conference rooms, R&D centers, museum exhibits, mobile education centers, virtual rides and other entertainment attractions.

According to the RealD announcement: The RealD LP is an externally mounted peripheral for a single 3D-enabled DLP projector, with electronic controls integrated inside the device. When 3D content is fed to the projector in full-resolution, frame-sequential format, the RealD LP allows content to be seen in 3D by polarizing right- and left-eye images. Viewers would require RealD eyewear custom built for the LP.

Supporting screens up to 17 feet wide, the RealD LP is designed to work with 3D-enabled projectors such as NEC NC800, Christie Mirage HD, and Lightspeed Design HD DepthQ, along with a silver screen from Harkness, MDI or Stewart.

The system is now available for lease through the company’s professional division.   

Daily Cinema Roundup-Monday April 27

–News on the Croisette: Xpand announced today that it was officially chosen as the 3D digital system provider at this year’s Festival De Cannes.

The 62nd Festival de Cannes will begin its opening ceremony on May 13 with Pixar Animation Studios’ first stereoscopic 3D animated feature “Up,” which Disney opens May 29 in North America.

Xpand will supply the projection for the “Up” screening, and will have four additional 3D systems throughout the Film Festival and the Marché du Film. The 3D screenings will be integrated by XDC using Christie projectors. Presentations will use the Xpand Series 101 3D active glasses.

Xpand reported that it has exceeded more than 800 3D screens worldwide and has approximately 100 transacted deals scheduled through June 2009.

“Up” looks poised to be another hit for Pixar. A 47 minute “Up” preview was screened last month at Showest and received very favorable feedback.

–UK theme park Legoland Windsor and RealD have partnered to upgrade the park’s Imagination Theatre with RealD 3D technology. This marks RealD’s first installation in a European theme park and the second partnership between RealD and Legoland (RealD is installed at Legoland California).

The Imagination Theatre 4D presentations “Spellbreaker 4D” and “Bob the Builder in 4D”  are slated to combine digital 3D with environmental elements, such as wind and water.

Daily Cinema Roundup – Thur 23 April


- Cinema box office “is performing well despite the bad economy — not because of the bad economy,” according to a new survey published by Nielsen. Perhaps no surprise that it found that cinema was still considered a good value proposition, even in these tough economic times, by no less than 59 per cent of those who responded. Still, the article in THR.com makes clear that 20 per cent are cutting back on cinema going and only dining out is experiencing more cutting back amongst respondents;

- AMC Theatres supports children with autism (and their parents) by putting on special screenings with lower audio and lights not fully dimmed. Metro West Daily News reports that, “The Flutie Pass multiplex is one of 67 AMC theaters in 32 markets now showing “sensory-friendly films at convenient times and discount prices, said community relations manager Cindy Huffstickler. AMC has been screening films for autistic viewers since 2007 after a mother complained she’d been asked to leave a Maryland theater run by another chain when her autistic child became disruptive.” I’m sure these screenings do not make a massive difference to AMC’s bottom line, but are a good example of exhibitors exercising corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their community;

- In a similar vein, UK’s Cineworld is testing ‘Cinebabies’ in two screens, according to Haverhill Echo. “The initiative sets out to make the film experience as relaxed and enjoyable as possible for babies aged under 18 months and their parents, or even grandparents, uncles or aunties. Pushchairs will be arranged in the auditorium so that adults can have easy access to their belongings, while baby changing facilties are also available.” These too will have lower audio levels and light semi-dimmed.

– Canada’s Cineplex is going in for digital 3D in a big way through a deal with RealD. From Screendaily.com. “The Toronto-based exhibitor will have a total of 122 RealD 3D projectors operating in 72 facilities across the country with in a month. In all Cineplex will have 161 digital projectors, with 122 of them RealD 3D-enabled.” No word on which projector and server manufacturers are supplying the rest of the required hardware;

- Definitely not in 3D, but Cineplex will also be screening a concert by Diana Krall, according to Ottawa Citizen. “Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall, in town May 2 and 3, can also be seen in movie theatres May 20 in a concert she presented in Rio de Janeiro last November… The screening will be presented at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum and SilverCity cinemas in Ottawa as well as the Galaxy cinemas in Cornwall and Brockville.” [Which reminds me of the joke, Q: What is a guaranteed way of stopping the spread of AIDS? A: Ask a jazz record company to distribute it];

- Research & Markets has published its study on multiplexes in India. “The industry is characterized by seasonality, low screen density, increasing average ticket prices, and reducing shelf life of movies. The key trends identified include producers bypassing distributors, shift to digital cinema, and alternate content in multiplexes, retail partnerships, and new single screen formats.” It forgot to include ‘crippling strikes’ as well;

- Cinemas in south India will be closed today as part of a larger protest against the violence in Sri Lanka that is affecting the local Tamil minority, according to Press Trust of India. “The Tamil cinema industry has announced suspension all its activities today and shows in cinema theatres have been canceled.” Shops, transport and other businesses were also affected;

- Proving box office is off to a strong start in most places, Budapest Business journal is reporting that Israeli-owned Cinema City
in Hungary saw turnover rise 15 per cent in the January-February period. “The recession is not affecting the company’s performance: it has opened new screening rooms since the beginning of the year, and it plans to open a multiplex at the site of the former Skála department store in Budapest around October or November.” The outlook for the rest of the year is also said to be good;

- Similar positive news reaches us from Australia, courtesy of TradingMarkets.com. “Australian cinema operators and film studios are reporting strong box office sales. Graham Burke, the CEO of Village Roadshow, says that even ordinary films are generating a lot of interest among moviegoers. He believes that cinemas can withstand the competitive pressure from the internet by making a visit at the movies a memorable event“;

- Irish Times reports of a battle brewing over the re-development of the main shopping street in Dublin where the Carlton Cinema stood. “The proposed €1.25 billion redevelopment of a 5.5 acre site centred on the former Carlton cinema on O’Connell Street, could “serious and irreversibly” undermine the character of Dublin’s main street, An Bord Pleanála has been told.” Perhaps they should have just kept the cinema rather than just preserving the facade.

- But despair not, Irish ‘filum’ lovers – BMW Ireland is hosting an open air screening on May 7th at Dublin’s nearby Temple Bar to promote the launch of their Mini convertible. Movies.ie reports that you can vote for either “Gross Point Blank”, “The Big Lebowski”, “High Fidelity” or “Ferris Buellers Day Off”. Tough choice, but you must vote for Ferris;

- Finally, one of the big screens greatest painters of light is no longer with us as The Telegraph reports that cinematographer Jack Cardiff has died at the age of 94. “Black Narcissus” looks as amazing in all its Technicolor glory today as it did 61 years ago. RIP Mr Cardiff.

Daily Cinema Roundup – Tue 21 April

– Despite a proliferation of new multiplexes in the major cities, China still faces a massive cinema shortage reports Xinhuanet. ““Many cities in the western regions still don’t have modern cinemas with multiple screening rooms,” Mao Yu, vice president of the SARFT told Xinhua. Mao said, a total of 2,860 counties across the country have no cinema at all, which “severely” limited the development of the country’s film market. Statistics from the SARFT show that, the country’s box office for the first quarter of 2009 totaled 1.25 billion yuan (about 183 million U.S. dollars), a year-on-year increase of 50 percent.” Chinese cinema growth could thus leapfrog western in terms of going digital by installing digital but no analogue from day one.;

- Heather (Rollergirl) Graham’s latest film “Baby On Board” will release in D-Cinema and E-Cinemas in the US. Distributed by Angry Monkey Entertainment (AME), note the angry language when it comes to the technology issues. “AME implements encoding and digital compression technology to conform film releases to a high standard approaching the quality of D-Cinema – without costly licensing fees and exclusive equipment contracts that penalize exhibitors through bad profit-participation agreements. E-Cinema theaters, which today greatly outnumber D-Cinema installations, circumvent D-Cinema’s corporate licensing restrictions and subsequent revenue loss to theater owners. As reasonably-priced HD projectors and servers allow smaller regional theaters to embrace E-Cinema, affordable content can extend the use of these installations beyond pre-shows and corporate presentations.” No word on which E-Cinema network will be targeted (NCM Fathom? Emerging Pictures?);

- Carmike and Screenvision (NOT Bigger Picture, interestingly enough) will be bringing stand up comedy to the big screen. “STAND-UP 360 will be delivering a series of feature-length stand-up comedy performances recorded live at the Broadway Comedy Club in NYC.” This is perhaps not such a big deal, given the past 35mm releases of “Eddie Murphy Raw” and “The Original Kings of Comedy“;

- India’s Adlabs has been piping Bollywood films to the US over Relaince Globalcom’s fibre optic network. From Variety. “Adlabs also plans to bring movies and alternative content from India and other foreign-language territories to niche auds in Reliance’s American theaters. Adlabs’ Big chain owns 21 theaters with 166 screens in the U.S., targeted at areas with large immigrant communities. The entire chain should be converted to digital production within 18 months. Adlabs has already used the Reliance Globalcom network to send recent Indian pics “Ghajini,” “Luck by Chance” and “Delhi 6″ to screens in New Jersey and California.” Press release here. [Full disclosure: I was involved in setting this up and running it];

- Hollywood distributors appear to be supporting their Indian colleagues in postponing releases of new titles to Indian multiplexes according to Businessofcinema.com. “A source informs that Fox Star Studios has also postponed the release of its upcoming flick X-Men 4: Wolverine, which was to release in India on 1 May. Warner Bros India was looking at releasing two Hollywood films in Bombay and Delhi on 17 April. However, these movies are not playing at any multiplexes as of 20 April.” US anti-trust laws means that the Hollywood distributors cannot formally join in the strike/boycott/non-release;

- In a sign of the time,s Hollywood studios are cutting back on adverts for new releases in printed newspapers, according to the LA Times (which must be worried). “While studios, many of which have remained fairly loyal to print advertising, have been running smaller movie ads in recent years, Fox has made a bolder break with tradition, releasing four movies this year alone where the studio has run minimal newspaper ads or, in the case of ”Dragonball” and “Street Fighter,” released in late February, no ads at all.” More fodder for the name-says-it-all NewspaperDeathWatch blog?;

- UK’s Cinema Advertising Association has published research that people still intend to spend money going to the cinema. “The research, which was carried out at the end of last year, found that 62% of those surveyed said they planned to spend the same amount on cinema tickets as they did before the credit crunch.” A quarter of the 3,000 people surveyed said that they had made repeat visits to a cinema to see the same film.;

- French cinema circuit CGR has signed a deal with RealD to roll out 3D widely. From the press release, “This is another example of CGR Cinemas seizing opportunities first, which make it one of the pillars of French film exhibition today. This collaboration will allow us to take advantage of upcoming 3D films beginning with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” said Jocelyn Bouyssy, chief executive officer of CGR Cinemas.” No word on how many systems will deployed and no mention or aknowledgment of integrator Arts Alliance Media;

It Was A Very Good ShoWest 2009 For Sony

The popcorn has been swept away, the 3D movie banners folded, the quiet talk about how cinema is holding up in the recession has faded – ShoWest 2009 is over.

While VNU will continue to host the Las Vegas-set cinema trade show and exhibition for one more year before NATO is rumoured to take the show back (and move it to Ceasar’ Palace) in 2011, there was something of an End Credits roll feel to the confab. The number of attendees was down, the studios were (with two exceptions) largely absent, the parties scaled back and nowhere was there any open celebration of the fact that this year’s box office easily looks set to cross $10bn.

So who did well in this year’s conference? Digital Cinema? Old hat. 3D? Sure, “Monsters vs. Aliens” did well, but that was to be expected. Instead it would seem that ShoWest 2009 will go down as the year that Sony and its 4K SXRD technology took its decisive step into the limelight. No, it was not a case of audiences waking up and suddenly finding 2K resolution inadequate and demanding 4K, as Sony still hasn’t figured out how to create a pixel-fetish driven demand amongst cinema goers (free hint: don’t call it ’4K’ – call it an ’8 megapixel projector’ versus DLP’s ’2 megapixel’ – sure, it’s not correct, but since when did that stand in the way of aggressive marketing?).

No, it was three interlinked announcement that helped crown Sony Electronics (not SPE – Sony Pictures Entertainment) the unofficial King of the ShoWest hill. Read More »